Entry level finance jobs and the skills you need to land one was originally published on College Recruiter.
If you are considering a career related to finance, what are your options? Here we share entry-level finance jobs that are available to you, along with the salaries you can expect. We’ll also share the skills you need to launch and grow your career, and what makes a Finance major worth it.
You will find finance jobs in just about every organization, across all industries. Eunice Frey, HR manager and blogger says, “It is up to you to select the industry that you feel works best for you and has the right level of career progression available for you to take advantage of.” She sees a lot of professionals in finance and banking end up stagnant and frustrated because they are not advancing in a meaningful direction. You should reflect on what career path you might enjoy most, and choose an industry and organization that can provide that to you.
Entry-level finance jobs
- Loan Officer
All banks need loan officers, from the local one down the street to the gargantuan institutions with branches on every corner. A loan officer, as described at wisegeek.com, “functions as the liaison or intermediary between an institution that provides personal and business loans to consumers and the applicants for a loan.”
Accounting is one of the top careers in the financial industry because it’s such a valuable position to companies across the United States and a valuable part of every business. Accountants work on the transactions of the business and track the flow of money. Accounting positions make up about 28% of finance jobs. In fact, journalofaccountancy.com says “the profession is thriving — with college enrollments, degrees awarded, and demand for new accounting graduates all reaching all-time highs.”
While launching a career as an accountant has a low barrier to entry, your salary will likely be lower than other finance jobs. In addition, many accountants work very long hours because accountants can’t get away with not meeting deadlines. That said, you can have a promising career path as an accountant. Frey says that accountants can move into a senior accountant position, and then “into an auditor or financial controller position.” After that, “they can then seek opportunities that take them to the role of a finance director.”
While launching a career as an accountant has a low barrier to entry, your salary will likely be lower than other entry-level finance jobs. In addition, many accountants work very long hours because accountants can’t get away with not meeting deadlines.
- Financial Analyst
There are several types of financial analyst jobs, but the basics of the position remain the same. An analyst reviews and considers various statistics on investments, and then offers opinions on which investments are wise and which are not. Being an analyst can give you a solid foundation for a good position at a money management firm. Investment analysts make a good salary, but it is a difficult field to break into.
If you excelled in school and are ready for a challenging but rewarding career as an analyst, you may want to head to New York or Chicago. Both of these cities are home to a lot of opportunities in the financial sector.
- Junior Tax Associate
As the cliché says, “the only things that are certain are death and taxes.” Even with recent tax reform designed to simplify things, people and businesses will still need help figuring out this aspect of their finances. That is why a position as a junior tax associate is one of the best entry-level finance jobs.
The salary is not as shiny as some of the jobs listed above, but the experience and knowledge you gain can serve as a valuable launching pad for more opportunities later on.
- Financial Auditor
An auditor keeps a close eye on a company’s financial statements, checking for accuracy and any red flags. This is a competitive field, since there is so much opportunity for growth and it is such a high-trust position. To increase your chances of landing a job as an auditor, consider specialty training beyond your bachelor’s degree. It will help you stand out in a pool of applicants.
The world needs more number-crunchers and driven individuals to analyze, audit, and review its financial matters.
- Investment Analyst
In a world where everyone wants to invest, there are many opportunities to become an investment analyst. Even the increasingly popular local lenders need these professionals to help them determine the most viable investment options. “As an investment analyst,” says Frey, “you can proceed to become a fund manager before proceeding to an associate position, which ultimately leads to the vice-president
Business versus government opportunities
In the business sector, a finance grad will have an opportunity to explore the realm of corporate management and to plan financial strategy within a corporation and with its board of directors. This includes helping to determine a project or product’s profitability, pricing and marketing. Many firms hire recent Finance grads to evaluate their company’s current standing in their markets and to study government policies that could affect them.
Finance majors are also well-suited to jobs in government. When working with the government on a federal level, financial majors are often tasked with the preparation of policies and are called in to offer advise to regulatory agencies that manage national economic issues.
Salaries for entry-level finance jobs
Below are national averages for entry-level finance jobs. Data provided by glassdoor.
Financial Analyst: $59,111
Loan Officer: $49,951
Junior Tax Associate: $54,448
Financial Auditor: $64, 269
Investment Analyst: $85, 317
The skills you need to land a job in finance or banking, and to grow in your career
Saurabh Tyagi, a writer on education, technology and career advice, gave us his advice for Finance majors, specifically the skills you will need to get hired and grow in your career:
Intellect: Recruiters are attracted to intellectual thinkers who have the ability to grasp new concepts quickly, whether it is a task, managing a project or assimilating data. Individuals who possess strong learning agility, can easily thrive in demanding and challenging situations, which are common occurrences in these sectors.
Adaptability: The banking and finance industry continuously explodes with new trends, deals, opportunities with new markets being founded and old markets being relinquished to history. As such, it needs people who can deal with these fast-paced changes and deliver results quickly even in unfamiliar situations. Inquisitive personalities, curiosity, asking good questions at the right time are all good qualities to stand out in your job search.
Innovative: You may not expect this to be in the skill set of successful financial professionals. In fact, being innovative is a highly prized trait for this career path. The ability to create or identify new opportunities to develop the business, generate new ideas, and approach a problem with a new and refreshing perspective is one of the key requirements to thrive in the age of cut-throat competition. Show recruiters how you can think out-of-the-box and how you seek opportunities for improvements.
Mathematical aptitude: Your number crunching ability should be second to none. Performing tasks like creation of financial reports, balance sheets, income statements and budgets requires you to have excellent quantitative ability. You should be able to read financial reports and explain it to clients or colleagues. A banking job will require you to deal with loads of money daily. If you are a finance professional and are employed in a brokerage firm, your responsibilities will include tasks such as writing orders for stock purchases, computing transfer taxes and distributing dividends to customers, all requiring an expert’s hand at mathematics.
Communication: Your ability to communicate verbally and in written form is essential. Finance professionals have to deal with the communication of lots of important policies and procedures to their clients. They have to communicate budgetary concerns of management, along with redressal of consumer complaints. Many banking positions will require you to communicate with customers on a regular basis, answering their queries. Meetings, presentations and conferences are an important part of most managerial roles in these sectors.
Resilience: There are plenty of stories about the notorious pressure-cooker situations experienced by professionals in banking and finance. With aggressive deadlines to meet, and a highly pressurized working environment, you need to prove recruiters that you are resilient. Many higher education courses fail to focus on the key skill that can make or break you career. That is, your ability to work under pressure.
Global outlook: Trends travel fast in this industry. An economic ripple in the United States creates a flutter in the corporate world in nations across the globe. Thus, if you are able to wear a global lens and operate in an international context, you will be an attractive candidate.
What makes a finance major worth it
You have many options as a Finance major. Competent financial leaders are needed in every organization across all industries. The pay can be quite nice and in a field that is constantly growing, these pay rates will only grow.
The personal benefits for financial majors don’t end with a healthy paycheck. One of the best elements of majoring in Finance is that you can really make your own money work for you. Since the very nature of a financial education concerns the growth of wealth, it only stands to reason that you will have the knowledge to invest your money creatively and intelligently. With an intimate knowledge of tax law and financial policies, Finance majors have a leg up on other professionals when it comes to getting the best breaks. While other careers may bring in a larger paycheck, financial majors have the knowledge to turn less cash into more wealth — and know what the difference is, too.